16th century artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo created a king’s portrait out of grotesquely arranged fruits and vegetables (including an “ear” of corn):
Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II
Arcimboldo also created still lives that, when turned upside-down, revealed faces. Was Arcimboldo insane? Or, was he deliberating mocking the powerful Hapsburg family right under their pear noses? Smithsonian author Abigail Tucker suggests that the Hapsburgs, seeking to be the 16th century’s avant-garde, were in on the joke.
On a more modern note, Arcimboldo was once the inspiration for an ad campaign for salad dressing featuring a character looking very much like the one above. The campaign was abandoned after focus groups revealed that consumers were made squeamish by the spokesman’s appearance, not to mention by suggestions of cannibalism as they ate their salads.
Now for a quiz. Was the portrait below painted by 20th century artist Salvador Dali, who, with Picasso, thought of Arcimboldo as the “Grandfather of Surrealism? Or by Arcimboldo?
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